Neighbors witnessed stabbing attack, heard victim’s screams

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Rockford police have arrested 46-year-old Jerry Saylor for stabbing a 61-year-old man to death on Fanwridge Drive on Sunday night, making the crime Rockford’s 16th murder of 2018.

Neighbors Tom and Jackie Casey heard the victim’s cries for help in the normally quiet neighborhood, at the corner of Pepper Avenue and Fawnridge.

The Casey’s said they initially thought he had fallen and couldn’t get back up, but the situation escalated when they looked out their bedroom window.

“My wife was in the shower and even with the water running, she could hear him screaming,” Tom Casey said.

The Casey’s window is just a few feet away from where the victim was found stabbed to death on his back patio. 

By the light of a garage light, Casey said he was able to see some of what happened, and called 911.

“He was laying on the patio, and there was someone standing over him, beating on him,” Casey recounted. “I heard him scream, at least yell, ‘help!’ five or six times. And there was some other words that came out of his mouth, but I just didn’t understand what was happening at that point in time.”

Casey says he was unable to get a good look at the attacker, later identified as 46-year-old Jerry Saylor, but he did hear a car leave before police arrived on the scene.

By the time they arrived, the victim was dead.

“It’s quite an intensive investigation, to the point where investigators and officers worked through the night on this particular case,” said Carla Redd, Assistant Deputy Chief of Investigations for the Rockford Police Department.

The bedroom window’s view is partially obscured, which is why Casey says he didn’t realize the severity of the crime at the time as he witnessed it.

“I looked out there and somebody [was standing] over the top of him and he was beating on him, but we didn’t know that he had been stabbed,” Casey said.

Saylor has a criminal past spanning more than 10 years.

“The victim and the suspect are known acquaintances of each other, so this is not a random act of violence,” Redd said.

The incident still has neighbors in a state of shock.

“We live in a nice, elderly neighborhood. Most of my neighbors are in their mid to late eighties, or whatever. It’s very quiet here, and I just couldn’t believe something like this could happen in our neighborhood,” Casey said.

The identity of the victim has not yet been released publicly. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Saylor is charged with First Degree Murder.

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